FAQ for Prospective Parents
1. What is the academies approach to setting/streaming?
What is the difference between setting and streaming?
Streaming is defined by the academy as when a group of students is given a particular curriculum pathway to follow that is distinct from the rest of the year group or academy. The major example of this at Plume is when students opt to complete a vocational programme at the end of Year 9. In doing so, they choose to follow a college course and/or work placement, which supplements their in-academy programme.
Setting is where students are grouped into particular classes based upon a range of ability, in order to maximise the teaching opportunities made available to those students.
As an academy that is very proud of its comprehensive status and ability to accommodate the needs to students from a wide range of abilities, we look at setting very carefully on a subject by subject basis. For example, currently in English, students benefit from mixed ability teaching at Mill Road and then move into more specific set classes when they begin studying their GCSEs. Science and Mathematics, by comparison, set students on entry to maximise the students’ access to the most appropriate curriculum for them. Expressive Arts subjects (Art, Dance, Drama and Music) are not set at any stage, remaining mixed ability throughout.
2. How do you respond to incidents of poor behaviour?
Plume has a good record with regards to behaviour:
‘Students’ behaviour is good. Relationships are positive and students come to lessons ready to learn. Students feel very safe at school and attendance has significantly improved’ Ofsted Report, January 2014.
‘Students move around the site calmly, respect the academy’s facilities, and enjoy good relationships with teachers, other adults and each other…’ Ofsted – HMI Visit, July 2014.
At Plume, we like to focus on the positive effort and achievement we expect to see. However, where there are cases of poor behaviour, staff follow a clear sanction routine, which is posted on every classroom wall, for staff and students. This ensures a consistent, fair approach is used across the academy.
If the behaviour moves beyond this system there is a clear series of procedures outlined in our Academy Behaviour Policy. For more information on this and other school policies, please look at our policies by clicking here.
3. How is progress and achievement measured and responded to?
A student’s progress and achievement are measured through assessments completed by students in class. This could be an assessed practical, controlled assessment, ongoing assessment of classwork/homework, self and peer assessment in class, written tests or similar, dependent upon the specifics of the subject being studied. This range of assessment is used in a number of ways, for example…
a. The class teacher feeds back information to the student on how they can improve upon their previous work and so make progress.
b. The class teacher builds up a pattern of the strengths and weaknesses the student has and uses this to plan lessons, which meet their learning needs.
c. Data is recorded and fed back to parents either directly, where a specific issue arises or more generally through regular Progress Reviews during the course of the year.
d. Feedback to parents also occurs through a Yearly Parents Evening.
Where a student is exceeding their target grades and making exceptional progress, we will investigate ways of helping them progress further and feedback from parents is extremely helpful in this case. If a student is struggling to make the expected rate of progress, then we investigate opportunities to provide support both inside and outside normal lessons, for example, numeracy intervention, peer mentoring and so on.
My child is very able – what is the provision for them?
At Plume we cater for students of a wide range of abilities and support them all in being successful. The best way to support students who are particularly able is the same as any other student; to use their strengths and develop the areas that they need to develop in. Plume Staff, realise the need to tailor lessons to suits different abilities and do so to maximise progress.
Students who are particularly able (identified as gifted and talented) in particular subjects, may complete an individual education plan, which guides staff in identifying the best ways in which to support their progress.
My child has special educational needs – what is the provision for them?
For information on support for students with special education needs, please look at the SEN Local Offer on our website (SEN Offer, please click here) For more information on other academy policies, please look at our academy policies by clicking here.
4. What is the average class size at Plume/Mill Road Campus?
In some respects the average class size does not indicate the same thing it did at Primary school, where students often remain in one class for the whole time. The size of the class will be determined.by a number of factors, all set up with the intention of maximising students opportunity to learn effectively.
For example, class sizes in Technology subjects do not exceed twenty students, and core subjects (e.g. English and Mathematics) may be taught in very small classes (as low as fourteen) to ensure specific educational support can be offered or larger classes of more able students.
Class sizes will also vary in option groups in Year 9-13, based upon the choices made by the students as they progress through the academy. This can result in some small class sizes for specific subjects and larger groups in others. The typical class size rarely exceeds thirty in most cases.
5. What is homework like at Mill Road Campus?
Homework is designed to expand upon students learning in the classroom and promote responsibility with the students themselves in terms of managing and completing homework activities. These can vary from ongoing projects e.g. cell modelling in Science, to computer-based assignments, such as MyMaths homework in Mathematics.
We are currently investigating ways we can share homework activities more effectively with parents/carers, so they can support their children in being successful learners.